Discovery Learning Research Center

The Games-to-Teach Competition

Serious Games Project
AAE251 Introduction to Aerospace Design

Mission Statement

Our mission is to develop foundational capabilities that enable broad applications of gaming in education and training.


Our Serious Games Project pursues two major objectives: a) development of a Serious Game version of AAE251 Introduction to Aerospace Design for Fall 2009 and b) research on the efficacy of multi-user, multimedia interactive game formats for learning engineering design of complex systems.


Project Description


More than half of the science and engineering workforce in the United States is approaching retirement age, while enrollment in engineering degree programs is declining. More engaging learning environments that will attract and inspire a broader range of students to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines are needed in the U.S. New digital learning environments are integral to addressing this need, especially game formats that can inspire interest through intellectual engagement and that attract women and underrepresented minorities to the STEM disciplines.

We will create a Serious Game version of a Purdue undergraduate engineering course in aerospace design that engages diverse student learners, generates new modes of learning, and answers critical research questions concerning the efficacy of gaming venues as new digital learning environments for formal college instruction. Core features include: team-based collaborative learning environments, assessment of learning and communication in collaborative digital environments, and adaptation skills of students pursuing quests of evolving complexity. This project will make significant and original contributions to the field of digital media and learning that are extensible to other disciplines and learning levels. While teaching aerospace engineering, the game introduces students to team-based collaborative environments integral to the professional practice of modern engineering. We also anticipate this project being integral with broader efforts at Purdue that bring STEM (plus social sciences) to preK-12 learners. By playing the game, students are introduced to the design profession of aerospace engineering and afforded means to learn to increase the effectiveness of team working. Instructors are provided opportunities for measuring students’ learning skills and collaboration styles.

Research Questions

To assess the effectiveness of the serious game format, we combine current theories of learning and instruction with the principles of game design to provide a revolutionary education tool. Specific questions include

  • What new learning modes and obstacles arise in this novel approach?
  • What player behaviors or game elements lead to higher group performance and greater individual learning?
  • Is the game setting more engaging than traditional lecture-based setting? And if so, does the greater engagement leads to greater learning?
These questions require observation of large samples over sufficiently long durations. Our AAE251, which is offered to approximately hundred students twice a year, can provide statistically meaningful sample size for education research. The database linked to the virtual world may prove effective in analysis of strongly-coupled behaviors in collaborative group projects.


For More Information

For further information about the AAE 251 Serious Games Project is available from our project home page. We can also be reached at Purdue University by the following emails:

Dr. Daniel DeLaurentis (PI)
Assistant Professor
School of Aeronautics &
Dr. Sean Brophy (Co-PI)
Associate Professor
School of Engineering
Dr. David Ebert (Co-PI)
School of Electrical &
    Computer Engineering
Dr. Masa Okutsu
Postdoctoral Researcher
School of Aeronautics &


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